Levis — with so many fits to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. Here is a comparison of many of Levis’ most popular jean fits.
When you think of the word “denim,” chances are you think about Levi Strauss.
Levi’s are to jeans are what Coca-Cola is to soda. They’re what Nike is to
This 170-year-old denim manufacturer has more customers now than ever before, which is why they offer so many different styles of jeans.
And while it’s nice to have options — slim, skinny, original, athletic taper — it can be hard to choose the best fit for your body, especially if you haven’t tried them all on for yourself.
This article is a companion to Brock McGoff’s (The Modest Man founder) video in which he tried on 8 different pairs of Levi’s jeans to show you how they fit. Thus, in this article, “I” refers to Brock.
Without further ado, here’s our guide to Levis’ jean fits:
What I Ordered
For reference, I’m about 5’6” in shoes and 120 lbs after dinner.
My actual waist is about 29” around, and I usually wear 28 or 29 depending on the brand and cut.
To keep things scientific, I ordered size 29×30 in every style.
With that in mind, here are the fits I tried:
- 510 Skinny
- 511 Slim
- 512 Slim Taper
- 513 Slim Straight
- 531 Athletic Slim
- 541 Athletic Taper
- 501 Original
- 505 Regular
To keep things consistent, I went with a light wash for each pair.
Levi’s Fits Explained
Let’s see how each pair looks, starting with the slimmest fit and working our way up:
Levi’s 510 Skinny
510’s sit at your waist and are skinny throughout. They have a nice silhouette but, for me, are uncomfortably tight in hips and seat. You can see some pulling across the front of my hips.
I do like the shape of the leg, though, especially below the knee. If I was keeping these, I’d get them hemmed for slight or no break, and I might also size up to 30 waist
A few years ago, these would have been my top pick. In fact, they ranked high on my list of “best slim fit jeans” back in 2016. Nowadays, I prefer slightly more room.
Levi’s 511 Slim
The ever-pop ular 511 fit sits below your waist and is slim throughout.
These jeans are a pretty substantial jump from the 510s in terms of room through hips and legs, but the waist doesn’t feel much different, though.
They have more of a straight-fit leg due to less taper below the knee. 511s also look nice cuffed as they have a very clean drape and leg shape.
I don’t hate the look, though, especially if they were hemmed up an inch or two and they are much more comfy than the 510s.
These are probably my number one overall choice, all things considered (style, comfort, etc.).
Levi’s 512 Slim Taper
512s sit below your waist and slim through the thigh.
This pair has a noticeably more narrow leg opening than 511 (makes 511 seem like a slim-straight leg).
For me, they have maybe even too much taper below the knee, at least before hemming.
These jeans have a very comfy fit overall and are a good middle ground between the 511s and 531s.
These are my number two pick, almost tied with 511s.
Levi’s 513 Slim Straight
Now, let’s move on to somewhat looser cuts with the 513. 513s sit below your waist and slim through the seat and thigh and have a straight leg.
My pair had a noticeably longer inseam than the others I ordered. I think that maybe this was just an anomaly due to mass manufacturing.
These jeans have a very roomy calf/ankle (too wide for my taste), and a rise that feels similar to 511 and 512. The waist is a little looser than other pairs I’ve tried up to this point. I could probably size down to 28.
Honestly, I’m not a fan of the silhouette overall of these pants. They almost look like their boot cuts. I don’t know who these are for; as it’s not a flattering style in my opinion.
Levi’s 531 Athletic Slim
Next, we have Levi’s 531s. These are designed to sit below your waist and be slim from hip to ankle.
They feel much roomier through the hips and thigh (hence “athletic”), and are pretty similar to 513 but with more room in the hips and seat. They are actually really comfy; comfier than 513.
One odd feature is super deep front pockets — this is probably because they’re made for stockier guys.
The rise feels oddly low compared to 512, 513 (more like the 510 rise).
Similar to 513, the waist is a little looser; and I could probably size down to 28 in this cut, though if I were going for a looser fit, I’d consider these.
I’d wear these jeans cuffed because cuffing helps create a clean drape and looks pretty good (if you like the roomier silhouette).
Levi’s 541 Athletic Taper
Levi’s 541 Athletic Taper jeans sits at your waist and have extra room in the seat and thigh.
To men, these are pretty similar to 531 athletic slims but have a slightly better leg shape because they have more taper from the thigh down the ankle.
While slimmer in the leg they have a noticeably looser waist, I’d need to size down or wear a belt. It seems like the culprit is vanity sizing coming into play with looser fits.
They also have a slightly longer rise than athletic slim.
I like the shape of the leg of these jeans but wish it was slightly slimmer.
To make these jeans wearable for me, I’d probably need to size down to 28 or even 27 to get the right silhouette for my body.
While not ideal for me, these jeans would be my top recommendation for bigger guys looking for fitted but comfy Levi’s.
Levi’s 501 Original
These jeans were much roomier hips than the other cuts I’ve tried so far.
They have lots of room all around and through the leg and the same rise as the 541.
I wouldn’t wear these with slim-fit tops like this t-shirt as it won’t look balanced.
501s are way too baggy for me and have an uncomfortably impractical amount of material, leading to a heavy, cumbersome feeling.
The leg looks better cuffed in my opinion, but are still too loose for my skinny legs.
Levi’s 505 Regular
Trying on a pair of 505s I didn’t notice much difference from the 501s. If you look at 505s side-by-side with 501s, both cuffed, they’re very similar. These fit at your waist, have extra room in the thigh, and have a straight leg.
It’s kind of funny how 505s are considered “old man jeans” while teens love 501s because they’re basically the same. This is basically the type of jeans I wore in high school and college.
The rise feels slightly higher and is probably the longest rise of the batch.
Compared to the 501s, I actually slightly prefer the 505s as they feel just a tab bit more tapered through the leg, despite Levi’s description of 505s being roomier than 501s.
My favorite Levi’s fits were the 511 Slim and 512 Slim Taper.
For the 511s, I’d wear them with a slight break or cuffed.
For the 512s, I’d wear them with no break or cuffed.
If I wanted to experiment with looser fits, I’d try the 531 Athletic Slim and wear them cuffed for that nice clean drape.
For really skinny guys (thinner than me), the 510s would be a good choice.
For heftier gents, I’d recommend the 541s. These have plenty of room in the hips and thighs, but still offer a nice gentle taper down through the leg.
Common Questions About Levi’s Jeans
Here’s some more info about this popular brand:
How do Levi’s sizes work?
Levi’s famous jeans numbering system corresponds to how the jeans are supposed to fit.
For men’s sizes, evidently, the first number speaks to the fit around the waist and backside, the second number pertains to rise, and the third describes leg taper. (Source).
Honestly, Levi’s jeans sizing system isn’t very intuitive. You’re best off just googling the fit for each number you come across.
What is Levi’s known for?
Levi’s is known for their jeans. Levi’s has a huge variety of jean fits and sizes.
While it’s a pain to order all these jeans and try them on, it’s a really helpful way to get to know a brand and potentially discovered your new favorite cut of jeans.
I’m hoping this article and companion video saves you some time for having to try on every cut, and maybe help you narrow it down to two or three styles to test out yourself.
What’s your favorite Levi’s fit? Let me know in the comment section below!